IF you’re still struggling to get back into a routine after the Christmas break, then it’s likely your sleep has taken a hit.
And chances are you’re searching the internet in the hope that you might find some sort of remedy to help you reach the land of nod.
The NHS says on average: adults need seven to nine hours sleep each night.
But let’s be realistic, with work, childcare, socialising and that Netflix box set that needs to be watched, it can sometimes be hard to get to bed at a reasonable hour.
One expert has now busted some of the biggest myths you might come across and why buying into them won’t help your slumber.
Speaking to The Sun, Professor Denis Kinane, health expert and founding scientist at Cignpost, has dispelled some of the most popular sleep myths….
1. Six hours is enough
The New Year is full of resolutions, some of which might have made your calendar jam-packed.
For some, this could mean sleep takes a back seat, meaning you’re not prioritising the number of hours you have to snooze, making it tempting for you to just cram in six hours, Prof Kinane added.
Contrary to popular belief, The National Sleep Foundation guidelines advise adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night, however, recent research shows that 71 per cent of adults do not regularly get this amount.
“Adults who are getting less than 7 hours each night are more likely to suffer from health problems such as heart attack, high blood pressure, asthma, and depression,” Prof Kinane said.
2. Feeling tired the next day is the only consequence of poor snooze
If you’re going to bed too late, you might often think ‘I can be tired for one day, it won’t do any harm’.
But Prof Kinane said this is a myth as sleep is vital for many aspects of your health.
“Sleep helps your body repair itself and function normally during the day, but good sleep isn’t just important for your energy levels, it’s critical for your heart health.
“Poor sleep can lead to higher stress levels and unhealthy habits, such as less motivation to be physically active and unhealthy food choices, which can be damaging for your heart health.
“This can lead to weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and increased risk of a stroke.”
In addition, you need to be aware of the cause of poor sleep, Prof Kinane said.
This could be due to sleep apnoea, where sleep is disturbed due to blockage of the airways, resulting in snoring, and often a result of being overweight, he said.
3. It’s out of my hands
Another sleep myth, is thinking there is nothing you can do about the state of your sleep, Prof Kinane said.
In fact, there are plenty of things you can do about your snooze, including taking part in physical activity during the day, he explained.
“But try not to exercise within a few hours of bedtime, as the endorphins created by exercise may prevent you from getting to sleep,” he said.
You should also avoid using electronic devices and artificial blue light from phones as this can reduce the production of melatonin and prevent feelings of tiredness, he explained.
To counteract this, you should make sure you get enough natural light, especially early in the day, he advised.
This will help keep you awake and alert during daylight hours, he said.
Prof Kinane added that not eating or drinking within a few hours of bedtime; avoiding caffeine, alcohol and foods high in sugar is key to good snooze.
“Sleeping in a dark, quiet place in a comfortable temperature is conducive to a healthy circadian rhythm, allowing people to have a healthier night’s sleep,” he said.
4. You can never have too much sleep
If you constantly feel as though you’re tired, you might think endless amounts of sleep is key as you head into the weekend.
However, Prof Kinane said too much sleep can lead to issues such as diabetes with studies revealing that sleeping too long or not enough each night can increase the risk.
“Additionally, it can lead to weight gain causing risk of diabetes – in turn putting people at risk of variety of other issues including poor heart health.
“One study showed that people who slept for nine or 10 hours every night were 21 per cent more likely to become obese over a six-year period than were people who slept between seven and eight hours.”
As well as obesity putting people at risk of poor heart health, a careful analysis of this data shows that women who slept nine to 11 hours per night were 38 per cent more likely to have coronary heart disease than women who slept eight hours, he said.
However, researchers have not yet identified a reason for the connection between oversleeping and heart disease, he added.
5. I’ll catch up on it later
Unfortunately, it’s not clear whether sleeping in compensates for sleep debt or if it simply represents a return to our normal sleep patterns, Prof Kinane said.
One study found that sleeping in doesn’t reverse any of the negative effects associated with lack of sleep.
“While it’s possible to wake up following inadequate amounts of sleep and have a nap later in the day and feel energised, it is unclear whether it is possible to actually ‘catch up’.
“A concern with both napping and sleeping in on weekends is that a little extra rest can offer a false sense of recovery.
“You may feel better for a little while after getting extra sleep, but the long-term effects of sleep loss is a debt that takes longer to repay,” he added.